Routine blood and urine tests are typically inconclusive in cases of Coonhound paralysis, although they can reveal infectious causes of similar symptoms. More advanced testing can include assessment of serum immunoglobulins and of serum reaction to raccoon saliva, although these are also usually inconclusive as to the exact cause of the dog’s condition. Sampling and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid will often disclose an abnormally elevated protein level in dogs with Coonhound paralysis. Diagnostic tests of muscle electroconductivity and sensory nerve function are also available. However, most affected dogs never are diagnosed with certainty. Thankfully, most also recover spontaneously without major medical therapy or intervention. Your veterinarian can discuss these diagnostic procedures with you in greater detail if you suspect that your dog may be suffering from this condition.
Sensory function remains intact in almost all dogs with this disease, including the sensation of pain. Some dogs even become hypersensitive to touch (called “hyperesthesia”) and object vigorously to even the mildest of stimulation. This reaction is one of the few signs that helps veterinarians distinguish Coonhound paralysis from tick paralysis and botulism – the two other canine disorders that cause extremely similar clinical presentations. Usually, however, motor/muscle dysfunction predominates over sensory dysfunction in dogs with Coonhound paralysis, while dogs with either of the other two disorders tend to have more pronounced sensory disabilities in combination with their muscle paralysis.